AN ARSONIST who went on to the streets of Huddersfield at night and deliberately torched two parked cars has been jailed for 18 months.

John Firth, 30, was said to have been living like a “hermit” at his parents’ home since leaving technical college and his lawyer described him as a shy and socially inadequate man.

But during one night last December he carried out two arson attacks on vehicles parked in residential areas, causing damage estimated at about £7,000.

Prosecutor Robert Galley told Bradford Crown Court yesterday that the first vehicle to be set alight was a Vauxhall Zafira in Newland Road, Kirkheaton.

Shortly before midnight the car owner heard a loud bang outside her home and as she investigated she heard another loud noise which sounded like an explosion.

“She looked outside to see her car was now on fire,” said Mr Galley.

The fire service and police were contacted, but the car was completely destroyed.

Mr Galley said the car owner was very scared because she did not know what the motive was behind the arson attack.

A neighbour with CCTV equipment was able to give the police the registration number of a Renault Clio seen in the area, but about the same time there was a second arson attack on a car parked on Gawthorpe Lane, Kirkheaton.

The damaged car was a Suzuki Alto. The owner was away on holiday at the time.

The court heard that upholstery in the vehicles had been set alight using accelerants and when officers stopped Firth in the Clio that night they found a can containing petrol in the boot.

Last month Firth, of Sutton Avenue, Dalton, admitted two charges of arson.

Lawyer Mark Brookes, for Firth, said he was a single man who had never been in trouble before and the offences were completely out of character.

The court heard that Firth was suffering a depressive episode at the time of the fires.

He said Firth was now on prescribed drugs to address his depressive illness and had obtained some employment.

Recorder Henry Prosser told Firth: “I accept that these fires did not endanger the lives of the householders but you were not to know that.

“It was thoroughly irresponsible and I’m tempted to say a wicked thing to do.”